I was on Skype with my dear friend who lives in Montreal the other night and she said something to me that I felt needed honouring or celebrating in some way. She pointed out that over the last 12 months I’ve had so many amazing adventures while on the road and that she was incredibly proud of everything that I had achieved.
I always say that it usually takes for someone else to point out to us how far we’ve come, how much we’ve achieved, how much we’ve grown or changed, to really see it for ourselves (which is why I say it’s important to also always point out to our loved ones what progress they’ve made). And it makes sense – it’s similar to how it takes time for us to notice if someone who is close to us has lost weight, but we notice it immediately on someone who we don’t know so well. We ‘see’ ourselves in the mirror every day, we live with ourselves every minute. It’s hard to notice just how well we’re doing until someone points it out to us.
It has been an incredible 12 months. Yes, it was at times challenging, but travel really helped me through the life transition I was going through. There’s something ethereally beautiful, for example, about being 35,000 feet up in the air while enroute to a new destination. I usually stare out of the plane window in wonder for most of the journey, marvelling at what a beautiful world we live in, how incredible humans are to have invented something that defies laws of gravity. I always feel like the world is mine for the taking when I’m up in the air, and perhaps that’s why I get such a high every time I book an airline ticket.
It’s difficult not to be happy when you’re witnessing such marvels.
Being in a new place just brings out the best in me. Travel isn’t always easy – it’s not all great food and great interactions with locals and great photo opportunities. You’re challenged, you’re put on the spot, you’re invited to leave all expectations and preconceptions back at home. You’re, in short, forced into the present moment. You absorb so much new energy – new sights, new smells, new sounds. You meet people whom you would have never met back home, you make long-lasting friendships with incredible individuals, you also have one-off encounters that change you.
I’ve always maintained my travels are what helped me heal from my break-up fast. I therefore decided to put together a collection of my favourite 12 photos from the last 12 months, with a little explanation on why they’re so special to me. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together.
1.Staring up at La Sagrada Familia
They say that when something leaves your life, you should fill the space that is left with new things – things that will better you as a person, that will help you grow, that will make your life the best life possible. And for me, one of those things was travel.
My trip to Barcelona was my first ‘solo’ trip post break-up. The first few days were spent with a good friend but after that I was on my own – I wanted to test drive the solo female travel thing and ease my way in. La Sagrada Familia is one of those tourist hotspots that are totally worth every bit of the hype. I got goosebumps looking up at this magnificent structure; the experience is still so vivid in my mind that when I look at this photo I can recall the feeling of awe that I had.
It was one of those moments in life when I felt so overwhelmed by the amazing things people can achieve and it made me even more determined to go for my ultimate goal in my professional life – to finally get a book published.
2. Encountering this view in Skyros
It is so difficult for me to choose just one photo from my time in Skyros; those of you who are regular followers of the blog will know just how much of an impact my two weeks there had on my life. I attended a writing retreat and met some of the most incredible people, some who are now my closest friends.
I always believe that if you follow your heart, not only are you authentic to yourself and others, but it also means that you end up being exactly where you need to be at any given time. This statement applies to my time in Skyros; I vividly remember looking at this view and thinking to myself – this is exactly where I need to be right now. And I was so right.
Hence why this humble cameraphone photo makes the list.
3. Getting festive at the Munich Christmas markets
As Christmas 2016 approached I decided that it was about time I finally made it back to Germany for the markets. I absolutely love Christmas, so I wanted to get into the spirit of things, plus one of my best friends lives in Germany, so we arranged to spend a week in Munich and Salzburg.
It was a fantastic week and I can confirm that no one does Christmas markets like the Germans do. Ah the glühwein! The markets were just so much fun and I loved getting wrapped up warm, walking around all the stalls, listening to the live bands playing Christmas songs and, of course, stuffing my face with all kinds of sweet things. I took so many snaps that I put together a photo essay on the Christmas markets.
I have so many shots from this trip, but this one is my favourite. It’s just so festive and it encapsulates my time there for me.
4. Enjoying this incredibly festive view of Salzburg
Oh how I love Christmas in Europe. Salzburg is an absolutely beautiful city; architecturally it is so perfect that you wonder if it’s actually just a massive stage set. How can one town look so picture perfect?
My friend and I were in Salzburg for three days if my memory serves me right. We did a tour of the DomQuartier – the town’s cathedral/museum complex, and I took this shot from the rooftop of one of the buildings we were walking around. If only the mountains were covered in snow like they usually are at that time of year, this shot would have been perfect. I still love it, though. I can virtually smell the glühwein and roasted chestnuts just by looking at it!
5. This Bavarian sunset
We made the journey from Munich to the Bavarian town of Füssen in order to visit the legendary Neuschwanstein Castle (the one that the Disneyland palaces are based on). The scenery in this area of Germany is absolutely breathtaking – I think I spent most of the car journey staring outside thinking to myself ‘wow.’ It really was something else and is one of the many reasons why I love that country so much. I’d happily live there if the weather was a little better all year around.
I digress. I took this photo that evening as we were leaving the castle. It was a spectacular sunset and I just love the way the colours came through on this photo. The purples make it so serene and positive; I can’t help but look at it and think “life is beautiful.”
6.Feeling like I was living in a fairytale at Neuschwanstein Castle
Ah, Neuschwanstein Castle. It really is a sight to behold. My friend and I were ill prepared and both thought it was wise to wear open shoes (even though we both had more weather-appropriate boots back at the hotel in Munich) and the temperature was, if I recall correctly, below zero. We obviously didn’t realise that we’d have to walk a fair bit in order to get from the shuttle bus to the castle, otherwise perhaps we would have made a wiser choice with our footwear in the morning. Alas, we were both freezing while walking there.
However, when you’re surrounded by such marvels and beauty, you get on with it. I snapped away with my camera, occasionally staring down at my feet to make sure they were still there. I love this photo of the castle; despite the beauty of the building, I feel the snap has an almost eerie feel to it. Perhaps it’s because of the bare winter trees, perhaps it’s because of the somewhat moody sky. Regardless, I love it.
7. These majestic horses in Salzburg
I took a lot of photos at the Salzburg Christmas market, but I really like this one in particular. The horses are absolutely beautiful, and I like the fact the one on the right is staring at me as I take the shot. I also like the view of the architecture in the background; it all gives the shot a very regal feeling – let’s just ignore the bright pink puffer jacket in the corner, though. I should have cropped it!
8. This very Berlin frame
I’m rather surprised that I didn’t write an entire blog post about my visit to the Neues Museum in Berlin, as I absolutely loved it in there. The building itself is a historical marvel, and I spent just as much time looking at the exhibits as I did surveying all the bullet holes from World War II that have been incorporated into the design. I did, however, write a post on the impact Berlin was having on me – my time there was incredible and I have such a soft spot for the city. If the weather were better there’s no other city I’d want to live in.
I absolutely love this shot. The view from this window instantly caught my eye, so I just had to take a photo. I love the fact you can see the famous TV tower as well as a view of the Hellenic-style Alte National Galerie. Both the Neues and Alte museums are located on Museum Island – one of my favourite places in the city. After I took this, I had another moment of thinking “this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now.”
9. Feeling overwhelming sadness at the Jewish Museum
Berlin is a city with a history that is fascinating and dark in equal measure. I read so many books on the city’s history before I got there that I felt I could appreciate it even more than I would have had I not. Every street in the city has a tale to tell, every building, every museum…
The Jewish Museum was a very evocative space. This art installation was called ‘Fallen Leaves,’ which featured thousands of open-mouthed faces coarsely cut out from heavy, circular iron plates. I had a few minutes to myself in here, and it had a massive impact on me. I couldn’t help but think of all the lives that have been lost over the years due to war and wonder whether we’ll ever actually learn.
10. Getting arty at the Alte National Gallerie
I didn’t realise how much I love this shot until I was going through all my photos in order to put this post together. While I was in Berlin, I regularly spent entire days looking around the various galleries and museums. On this particular day, I was at the Alte National Galerie. There were a lot of statues and busts, so when I was editing these photos I made them black and white, and I love the results. I really love the way the lights of this one lead us into the photo, and I overall just love the mood of it. It also reminds of another beautiful Berlin day – museums, good food, great company. What more does one want from life?
11. Appreciating beauty more closer to home
As I’m always keen to better my photography skills, a dear photographer friend of mine suggested I do a photo walk in my village and write a blog post about it. I absolutely loved the results and this is one of my favourite shots from the afternoon. This is a very old Cypriot house – one that was made from mud. As you can see, it’s still in use – not as a home, but most probably as some sort of storage space. I love the fact my village is somewhat frozen in time and I find myself walking around its tiny streets, imagining what life there must have been like back when my grandparents were growing up.
And, of course, I love the blue, blue sky. The Mediterranean has the most beautifully blue skies…
12. Being in awe of Casa Battló
Gaudi was a genius, it’s as simple as that. Barcelona belongs to him, in my opinion, such is his impact on the city’s architecture. Visiting Casa Battló was the best thing I did while in the city; the building has such a whimsical feel to it, I felt like I was in some bizarre world of make belief. This doorway alone, to me, looks like the magical entrance to some mythical land. This is probably just my writers’ brain talking, but nevertheless that’s why the shot makes the cut. If you’re ever in Barcelona, please do not miss this.